Collard greens are really healthy for you. They are full of iron, vitamin C, calcium, fiber and lots of other important nutrients. You can eat them raw in salad, wraps or make dehydrated chips out of them (like kale chips) in numerous flavors, or you can eat them cooked. These greens are much like spinach in this way. Honestly, I prefer to eat them raw. When you cook them you have to be really careful to not degrade the fiber and vitamins, which is completely unavoidable for some nutrients, especially amino acids, which our bodies need for many basic chemical processes.

Anyway, of course there are many ways to eat and enjoy cooked collards, too. Cooking also makes the insoluble fibers more digestible and affects the flavor. Many people prefer to eat collards cooked, since the raw leaves can have a metallic or alkaline taste that is unpalatable to some. Whatever you do, don’t overcook it into a bland mushy slimy mess that holds very little nutritional value at all. I hope this site on collard green preparation proves helpful. It also details collard green’s nutritional benefits.

Collard green and lettuce wraps are great and very versatile. Yes, they are often messy, but that’s part of the fun. They are generally lower in calories than wraps made with tortillas or sandwiches made with bread. You can fill them with most any thing and dress them any way you like. You can even eat them with an accompanying dip, if you like. They are easy to make with or without meat and are a perfect finger food type meal that is easy to assemble an d completely customizable for those with certain food dislikes, allergies and or digestive issues.

Carianne over at Good Likes Girls made a curry lettuce wrap, which I think would also taste good with cashews and Bragg’s Aminos if you need it “veganized”. I would also have to play with the balance of the herb flavors, since I’d have to exclude mint. Here’s a Chinese chicken wrap posted by Chris Perrin that may be interesting. It’s made with rainbow chard, which I initially thought would taste to irony and alkaline…. It was posted on Food Fab, so people must like it.

Collard Greens Wrap
Serves 1 to 2

2 Collard Leaves, halved, center spine and stems reserved *
1/4 – 1/2 tsp Chopped Garlic
1 tsp Hummus, optional
1 tsp Favorite Savory Nut Butter, optional
1/2 – 1 tsp Dijon or Spicy Brown Mustard, optional
1 tsp Salsa Verde or Tomatillo Salsa, optional
4 – 8 Large Basil Leaves
2 Large Kale Leaves, torn into bite-size pieces, center spine and stems reserved
1 Carrot, trimmed, julienned or shredded
1 Small to Medium Beet, trimmed, cut into matchsticks
1 Stalk Celery, trimmed, cut into matchsticks, optional
1 Scallion, trimmed, cut into 4″ lengths
1/4 – 1/2″ Bunch Enoki Mushrooms, trimmed, separated, optional
1/2 Medium Avocado, skinned, pitted, sliced
1″ cube (1oz) Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti or Jack Style Wedge, sliced
OR 1oz Daiya Pepper Jack Style Shreds
1 Tomatillo, halved, sliced in small rounds or thin wedges
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, sliced into spears
1/4 Heirloom Yellow Tomato, sliced into thin wedges
1/4 C Cashew Nuts, prepared
1/2 Lime, juice of
OR 1 T Lime Juice
Dry Flake-Type Garnish, Grated Cheese* or Salad Toppings, optional

*I love Parma!, which is a vegan cheese alternative that consists of Himalayan sea salt, nutritional yeast and raw organic walnuts and comes in original, chipotle cayenne, and garlic. It’s amazing.

Lay the collard leaves down next to each other or one at a time on your work surface, like a medium to large chopping board. Of one of your leaves has a hole on one end, make sure to roll from that side so the ragged areas get tucked inside your wrap. Spoon on and spread the wet ingredients of your choice perpendicularly across the middle of the leaves to add flavor and or protein.

Start layering your fillings, starting with your greens. If you have small pieces, like nuts or seeds, that might potentially to fall out, place them as close together and as flat as possible but about a quarter of an inch away from the leaf edges. Add your layers of long and bundled vegetables, like the carrots, 4-inch long sliced stems. Press them firmly into the stack to prevent sliding. Carefully stack the bulkier fillings and then the wider flat fillings. Dress with lime other dressing. Sprinkle on salad topping, Shichimi Togarashi, furikake, ground spices or herbs, etc.

Here is where you may have some unruly pieces try to escape and most likely make a mess. (This is why working on a larger space, like a chopping board, is better than trying to roll everything together on a plate.) You will probably get your hands wet and dirty; the tasty wrap is worth it! Personally, I don’t mind little messes when handling wet ingredients to make finger food, since I figure my hands are going to get food and sauce on them anyway. Just be patient and try not to tear the leaves, which would cause a bigger mess. Not all of your fillings have to fit in the wraps. If your stacks get to high or you were a bit overzealous with your choices, put some of them aside; we will deal with those in a bit. Carefully roll up your leaves around the filling as tight as you can, kind of like rolling sushi. You can use a sushi rolling mat if you prefer, but I didn’t need one. If anything starts to slip out, push it back in. Teach it who’s boss! The wraps do not have to be sliced, since the leaves were already cut in half when you removed the center collard stems.Transfer your little wraps to a plate with a lip edge or shallow bowl, since they will drip at least a little bit. Make sure there is enough room on the dish to pile on your extra fillings that didn’t fit in the wraps previously. Treat them as a side salad, maybe even drizzling on dressing if you want. Enjoy!

*If you don’t like the taste of collards or you don’t have any, you can use large red or green curly kale leaves, romaine, red or green leaf, butter lettuce or iceberg (which is poor in nutrients and fiber but full of water). The kale stems should be removed but can be rolled in with the other fillings after they are cut into manageable lengths. The long lettuce leaves have much thinner spines that do not require complete removal, only trimming. Just make sure to remove the white stems near the base of the long lettuce leaves. Gently fold the leaves in half along the spine (being careful not to break the leaves), so it sticks out. Carefully shave off the part of the spine that protrudes outward (careful not to slice or pierce the green part of the leaf on either side of the spine), so that it is flat and thin when you unfold the leaf. The lettuce leaf should be much more pliable and not break as easily when you roll it up. Lay the leaves in order to fill their natural cup or bowl shape. Once your have all of the toppings on, roll up the leaves from the more leafy pliable side opposite from the stem just in case the stem is vengeful and decides to spite you and breaks anyway. Round lettuce leaves do not need trimming or stem removal. Make sure to use leaves that aren’t too thick and crispy, or they will fall apart when you roll or pick them up.

Here’s another example of a raw vegetarian wrap made by Diana Stobo. She uses butter lettuce (which is more expensive than other lettuce varieties but my grandma’s favorite) to make sweet and spicy Thai lettuce wrap with great ingredients, like carrots, garlic, ginger, celery, walnuts, scallions and cilantro.